Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

Emory Bariatric Center Patient Named 2015 OPTIFAST® New You Weight Loss Winner

tawnismallThe Emory Bariatric Center of Emory University Hospital Midtown is proud to have one of its own patients selected as a winner of the 2015 OPTIFAST® New You weight loss contest. The New You weight loss contest is designed to recognize OPTIFAST patients for their pursuit of and dedication to long-term weight management. Contest winners are living proof that lifestyle changes – mindful eating and physical activity – can help achieve a better quality of life.

The selected Emory Bariatric Center patient is Tawni Taylor from Atlanta, GA. Just less than a year ago, Tawni’s 5’3” frame carried 324 pounds. A walk up three steps of stairs left her breathless. Thirty years of not making the right choices in terms of her dietary and physical fitness habits had finally caught up with her, and she was ready to get on the right path.

On September 26, 2014, Tawni made a commitment to herself to lose weight and enrolled in the OPTIFAST program at the Emory Bariatric Center.

Today at 180 pounds, her whole mindset around food, physical activity and overall well-being has changed. It’s difficult for Tawni to imagine a life where mindful eating and exercise is not routine.

Tawni’s commitment to herself came to life as she went from a size 24/26 to the size 10 she wears today. With every 5% body weight loss, OPTIFAST patients receive different colored wristbands donned with words of inspiration. She cherishes one in particular, inked with ‘PERSEVERANCE,’ – a word that defines her ongoing journey, a symbol of her courage and lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

In her own words, “it takes an OPTIFAST village.” Tawni attributes the success of her ongoing journey to the endless compassion and support of her medical team at the Emory Bariatric Center and fellow OPTIFAST program patients, who inspired her every step of the way.

“OPTIFAST has reset my mind and put me back on the right path. It can change your life – it truly can.”, says Tawni.

Winners of the 2015 New You weight loss contest winners celebrated with an all-expense paid trip to New York City. The weekend of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation included a spa day, makeover and night out on the town with a loved one.

For more information about Emory Bariatric Center’s OPTIFAST program, call 404-778-7777 or visit

Takeaways from Emory Bariatrics’ Successful & Lasting Weight Loss Live Chat

successful-weight-loss-cilThank you to everyone who joined us on Tuesday, August 11th, for our live online chat on “Successful & Lasting Weight Loss: Strategies for Reaching Your Goals”, hosted by Emory Bariatrics registered dieticians, Megan Moyer, RD, and Kasey LaPointe, RD.

For the millions of Americans who diet, stop dieting and then promise to diet again, the constant struggle to lose weight and keep it off can be exhausting, not to mention discouraging. During this live chat, Megan and Kasey discussed strategies for long term weight loss success. They offered healthful living tips to get you on the path to lasting weight loss and provided successful strategies to help make this time the one that leads to a healthier, happier lifestyle. Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: What’s the best way to keep on track: daily weigh-ins? listening to tapes?

Meagan Moyer, RD: The best way to stay on track really depends on the person. Some people choose to weigh themselves everyday, but that can take a mental toll if they beat themselves up every time they step on the scale. That’s why I recommend not weighing yourself more than once a week. It’s also helpful to have a person you can call when you need support and in moments of “weakness.” Some people also choose to track what they eat using a website or app.

Question: Does eating before bedtime make you gain weight? What time should I stop?

Meagan Moyer, RD and Kasey LaPointe, RD: It’s a misconception that the metabolism stops at a certain time during the night. Usually the problem lies more with eating later in the night after your calories have been consumed for the day. Late night eating can be out of boredom or habit. One thing I suggest is asking yourself the reason you are eating, whether it’s out of boredom or actual hunger. Try to occupy your time with something else to keep you from snacking late at night. I keep a crossword puzzle next to my bed if I feel my mind wandering towards hunger.

Question: After months of steady weight loss, I feel like I might be at a plateau. My weight loss has been incredibly slow for the past few months. Any suggestions on how to adjust my diet to see better results?

Meagan Moyer, RD and Kasey LaPointe, RD: Reaching a plateau is completely normal when it comes to weight loss. The body gets used to your behaviors and habits, so it’s good to adjust your routine and diet. Try incorporating new activities into your work outs in order to continue to see results.

Also, while you may reach a plateau when it comes to the scale, the body often continues to change in other ways. Try to focus on other non-scale victories to measure your weight loss success. You can focus on how your clothes fit, seeing a decrease in inches using a tape measure, having more energy, sleeping better and other noticeable changes is a good way to measure your success.

Question: How do I know if I’m a candidate for Bariatric surgery?

Kasey LaPointe, RD: If your body mass index is greater than 40 or if your body mass index is greater than 35 and you have weight related health issues, you are a candidate for bariatric surgery. You also have to be ready to commit to a lifelong healthy lifestyle and be mentally prepared for these changes.

If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the chat transcript. You can also visit for more information.

Also, if you have additional questions for our registered dieticians, Megan Moyer, RD, and Kasey LaPointe, RD, please feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

Join our Live Chat – Successful & Lasting Weight Loss: Strategies for Reaching Your Goals

successful-weight-lossFor the millions of Americans who diet, stop dieting and then promise to diet again, the constant struggle to lose weight and keep it off can be exhausting, not to mention discouraging. Fortunately, there are successful strategies that you can learn to help make this time the one that leads to a healthier, happier lifestyle. Join Emory Bariatrics registered dietitians, Meagan Moyer, RD, and Kasey LaPointe, RD, on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. EST to discuss strategies for long term weight loss success.

During this live chat all of your questions will be answered about weight loss. Meagan and Kasey will provide healthful living tips to get you on the path to lasting weight loss and answer your questions about surgical and non-surgical weight loss. They will answer questions like:

• How much does genetics play a role in weight loss?
• My friend has had successful weight loss; why doesn’t her strategy work for me?
• How many calories do I need to burn to lose a pound of weight?
• Do any of the fad diets out there really work?
• What are the criteria for having bariatric surgery, and which procedure is best?
• What is the benefit of having my bariatric surgery performed with Emory Bariatrics?

Register now for our August 11 chat at

Sign Up for Weight Loss Chat


From Your Seat to Your Feet: Standing More Leads to Better Health

standing-at-work“Come in and take a seat!”

As a society, we sit a lot. We sit to work at our desks, to eat our meals, to commute to work or school, to watch TV and movies, and to play on our computers. Have you ever wondered what so much sitting might be doing to your body? Researchers have recently shed some light on just how much sitting is impacting our bodies…and the findings are not helping our waistlines.

Several studies have looked at what too much sitting can do to our bodies and our health. The studies have shown that there is a link between too much sitting and a larger waist circumference (a predictor of poorer health and metabolic syndrome) and a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). On a positive note, the opposite also rings true. People who stood more and moved more had smaller waist circumferences and lower BMIs.

So what does this mean for people trying to lose weight? The answer: stand up and keep it moving. Below are some ideas to help you decrease your sitting time throughout the day.

1. Take walk breaks: Sitting at your desk is unavoidable for many, but everyone takes breaks, so why not keep them moving? Break up the day with a quick walk around the office or block.

2. Try a standing desk: Many companies are becoming aware of the risks of increased sitting time on their employees. The companies are adding stand-up or adjustable desks to their offices. Ask your supervisor for a standing desk.

3. Stand up while on the phone: This is one work task that does not require being seated, so why not stand.

4. Quick trip? Try walking instead: Replace your quick car trips with a walking trip. Walk to the store, to restaurants, and to your neighbor’s house to cut out some of the sitting spent in the car. It saves on gas too!

5. Choose social activities: Swap sitting activities for active ones. Instead of watching a movie with friends, go bowling instead. Start a new tradition of walking with your family after dinner. Take shopping trips with lots of walking or volunteer at a local garden. Find an activity you enjoy, and get out there.

For more ideas on decreasing your sitting time, check out these resources:
American College of Sports Medicine
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Be Active Your Way Blog

The Gluten Free Diet: Is It for Me?

Gluten FreeThere has been a lot of hype around “gluten-free” diets in recent years. While thousands tout the benefits of going gluten-free, many people aren’t exactly sure what it is or if it’s the right diet for them. If you’re unsure of what “gluten-free” really means or if you should give it a try, here’s a quick and dirty rundown of things you should know:

  • The first thing you should know is that a gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease.
  • So what is celiac disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine is sensitive to the protein gluten, often found in wheat, rye and barley.
  • What are the symptoms of celiac disease? It’s a digestive disease, and symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, missed menstrual periods and numbness in the hands and feet.1
  • How does an allergy cause such a wide array of symptoms? The effect of celiac disease is twofold. First, when gluten is ingested by a person with celiac disease, it can damage the lining of the small intestine, causing uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Secondly, due to the damage of the small intestines, crucial vitamins and minerals don’t get absorbed properly, leading to malnutrition and long-term negative health effects.
  • How do I know if I have it? Celiac disease is genetic, so if anyone in your family has tested positive, it’s probably a good idea for you to get checked, too. The disease can occur at any age, and affects people in all parts o f the world. You can get tested for celiac disease with a simple blood test. People with the disease will probably have higher levels of certain autoantibodies that your doctor will be able to identify.
  • What if I don’t have celiac disease? Can I still do a gluten free diet? Gluten free diets are only necessary for individuals with celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Before going gluten free, take a closer look at your diet- Is your diet balanced? Are you eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and lean meat/low fat dairy? Often, when someone goes from a diet high in processed foods to “gluten free” they end up increasing other foods groups. This increase in fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans, nuts/seeds which may actually be reliving the symptoms, not the avoidance of gluten. If you’re not convinced, make any appointment with your gastroenterologist and discuss how to determine food allergies or sensitivities.
  • Will eating gluten-free help me lose weight? Not necessarily. Don’t fall prey to the idea that “gluten-free” equals “healthy” or “low-fat.” Some processed gluten-free foods are low in fiber so you won’t stay full as long, and they’re often stripped of important nutritional elements. In one case study, the vast majority of participants that adhered to a gluten-free diet gained significant weight.3 And since gluten-free foods often carry a heftier price-tag, you might want to think twice about going free just for weight-loss’ sake.

Takeaways: The gluten-free diet is really only necessary for people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Don’t get sucked in to the mindset that gluten-free equals a healthier diet. If you want to improve your health choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grains.

Related sources:


1. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) .
2. Antonio Di Sabatino, Gino Roberto Corazza. “Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: Sense or Sensibility? Annals of Internal Medicine. 2012 Feb;156(4):309-311.
3. T. A. Kabbani, A. Goldberg, C. P. Kelly, K. Pallav, S. Tariq, A. Peer, J. Hansen, M. Dennis andD. A. Leffler. “Body mass index and the risk of obesity in coeliac disease treated with the gluten-free diet.” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 35:.6; 625-744, March 2012.
4. Biesiekierski JR, Muir JG, Gibson PR. “Is gluten a cause of gastrointestinal symptoms in people without celiac disease?” Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2013 Dec;13(6):631-8.

Four “Healthy” Foods That Sabotage Weight Loss

Multigrain BreadIf you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to fall into the trap of all of the “healthy” products food companies are pushing these days. Extra calories can be cleverly hidden in these products, sabotaging even the most well-intentioned consumer. The best way to manage or lose weight healthily is to control portion sizes and to eat a balanced diet consisting of lots of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, lean proteins like chicken, fish, and beans, and low fat dairy. Do your best to avoid these sneaky “health” foods at your grocery store.

Fruited or flavored yogurt
The benefits of yogurt are plenty. It’s a good source of calcium, the live active cultures in yogurt help promote a healthy and happy digestive tract and it packs a protein punch (especially Greek yogurt). But this health food angel can often be a devil in disguise. Fruited or flavored yogurts are usually low fat or fat free, but can have as much as 31 grams of sugar in one six-ounce container! That’s almost eight teaspoons of sugar in your so-called “healthy” snack. Get all the benefits of yogurt without the extra sugar by buying plain, nonfat yogurt (Greek or regular) and adding your own fresh or frozen fruit.

Enhanced waters
Staying hydrated is important to maintaining a healthy weight, but getting the recommended eight glasses a day is difficult for some. Many people fight plain-water boredom by drinking enhanced waters like Vitaminwater. These are basically sugar water and a vitamin pill. If you eat a well-balanced diet filled with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low fat dairy, you may be getting enough nutrients from food. Do your waistline a favor and drink plain , calorie-free tap, purified, or bottled water. Check out this previous blog post for ideas on making regular water taste delicious without the extra calories.

Fast food salads
Fast food chains want you to believe you really can eat healthy at their restaurants. Many have extensive salad offerings to reel in weight conscious consumers. But beware: the dressings, toppings, and add-ons for these salads can add as much as 500 extra calories to your healthy bowl of fresh veggies. What’s more, the nutritious parts of a salad, like tomatoes and cucumbers, are often used sparingly. If you find yourself with no other choice besides fast food, your best bet is a grilled chicken sandwich — hold the mayo — paired with a side salad. Don’t forget to use the dressing sparingly!

‘Multi-grain’ products
Whole grains are an important part of a balanced diet, giving us carbohydrates for energy and several key nutrients. But don’t confuse ‘multi-grain’ with whole grain. A whole grain product will contain all parts of the grain: the germ, the bran and the endosperm. Whole grains provide essential fatty acids, fiber,and B vitamins. Unfortunately, a lot of the grains in our food supply are refined. A refined grain has the germ and the bran removed, leaving the endosperm, which is mostly nutrient-poor starch. Refined grain flour is easy to work with in cookies, cakes, and breads, which makes it a cheap and versatile ingredient for food manufactures. A food company can claim their product is ‘multi-grain’ even if all of its grains are refined. The term implies nothing about the product’s nutritional value, and it could still have the same amount of calories and fat as any other cookie, cake or cracker out there. To make the right choice, look at the ingredients list on the package label. Look for the word “whole” before the grain listed, and make sure it’s one of the first two ingredients. Better yet, avoid packaged or processed foods and choose whole grains you can see: oats, brown rice, bulgur or quinoa.

Author: Courtney Plush, MS, Emory Healthcare Dietetic Intern

Slow & Steady Wins the Weight Loss Race

Along your weight loss path, how many times have you wished for a quick fix? While there’s no magic bullet, there are simple, steady steps you can take to meet your weight loss goal.

Joe Before & After Weight LossArvinpal Singh, MD, Medical Director of the Emory Bariatric Center, along with Joe, an Emory Bariatric Center patient on his own non-surgical weight loss journey, hosted an online chat discussing strategies for long term weight loss success. Dr. Singh and Joe answered questions on what it takes to get on the path to lasting weight loss and offered inspiration to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Joe and Dr. Singh fielded lots of great questions, ranging from inquiries on nonsurgical vs. surgical weight loss to those on fat fighting foods. Having already lost 115 pounds by making smart diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, Joe shared some of his best tips for successful weight loss.

You can find a few of the weight loss chat questions and answers below. For more, check out the full weight loss chat transcript!

Question:  “Is it better to exercise for a full 30 minute interval daily or to exercise a total of 30 minutes throughout the day?” – Deborah

Dr. Singh, Emory Bariatric Center

Answer (Dr. Singh): Excellent question! BOTH are equal, 10 minute increments 3 times a day has been shown to be just as effective as 30 minutes once a day. As a rule, every step you take counts. For example, park further away, take stairs and stay active in your daily. Also, try spending some time during your lunch break walking, etc.


Joe, Weight Loss PatientAnswer (Joe): To add to that, the key is making sure you’re upping your activity overall and upping the number of calories you’re burning. If doing that in two 15 minute intervals works better for you, that’s great, or 30 minutes at once is good too. Even small changes make a big impact and it’s important to be aware of little steps you can take to get extra activity in. I’ll try to walk to the water fountain that’s furthest away, as an example.

Question: “I’m 55 years old, diabetic, with blood pressure off the chart. How do I lose 90 lbs fast?” – Lynn

Dr. Singh, Emory Bariatric CenterAnswer (Dr. Singh): Hi Lynn, Losing the weight quickly is not necessarily as important as losing the weight in a healthy way. Without seeing you in person, I can’t speak your personal medical situation, but in general, eating the right amounts of the proper foods and making healthy lifestyle changes are the first steps. I can certainly go into more detail after looking into your personal medical history and discussing your case in detail with you.

Diseases of our western society (including heart disease, diabetes & cancers) are not a necessarily an inevitable part of the aging process. Many of these conditions are reversible and preventable with excellent nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Joe, Weight Loss PatientAnswer (Joe): Losing a certain number of pounds isn’t as important as it is to regain your overall health. I realized many health benefits before reaching my target weight. As an example, when I began exercising regularly, I actually gained weight, but that was a good thing, as it meant I was developing new muscle tissue, improving my overall health, and getting smaller in the meantime.
Dr. Singh, Emory Bariatric CenterResponse (Dr. Singh): That’s a great point Joe, many studies show that even as little as 5-10 percent of weight loss dramatically improves a person’s overall health.

Have you seen success with your weight loss efforts? Share your best tips with us and our readers in the comments below!

Related Resources:

My Journey To Successful Weight Loss

Joe Before & After Weight LossFor the millions of Americans who diet, stop dieting and then promise to diet again, the constant struggle to lose weight and keep it off can be exhausting, not to mention discouraging. Fortunately, there are success stories that you can learn from to help make this time the one that leads to a successful weight loss and a healthier, happier lifestyle. Joe is one of the most successful patient stories to come out of the Emory Bariatric Center.

You can learn more about Joe’s weight loss journey in this online chat transcript. He joined  Dr. Singh, Medical Director of the Emory Bariatric Center, for an online chat where they shared weight loss tips and best practices and answered your questions live!

When I was in high school, I was a competitive swimmer. Once I got into college, I became a long distance runner, and I even ran a few marathons. I weighed 141 pounds, and was proud of the fact that my waist size and my inseam were the same (30 inches). Once I got into graduate school, I didn’t exercise as much, but I stayed in good shape. I think I weighed about 150 when I finished graduate school.

Unfortunately, when I got out into the world of work, my job involved a lot of travel and a lot of fast food meals on the go. Unfortunately, I quit exercising, and let my eating habits continue to get worse. Not long after we moved to Atlanta, my weight had ballooned to 420 pounds. My waist had grown to 66 inches!

Realizing things had gotten dangerously bad with my health, I tried all sorts of things. I tried swimming to lose weight, which worked well for a while, but without changing my diet, my weight loss slowed down and plateaued. I tried increasing the intensity of my swimming, but all that accomplished was hurting my shoulder, which ended my swimming for a long time. I tried the Atkins diet, which led to some weight loss, but the gout and kidney stones I got while on the diet let me know that a high protein, low carb diet is not a healthy long term approach. I tried walking twice a day — our dogs really liked that — but pain in my leg forced me to cut back on my walking.

The pain in my leg kept getting worse, which lead to visits to multiple doctors. I finally ended up at an orthopedist, who explained that degenerative arthritis in my hip and lower spine can cause pains in my thigh and lower leg. It turns out that the damage was caused by forcing my bones to support too much weight for far too long. He told me that there were three things I could do to help get better: lose weight, lose weight and then lose some more weight.

It occurred to me that I had been going about losing weight the wrong way all along. I realized that I had spent more than thirty years working as an IT consultant because I was really good at helping other people solve problems using computer technology. We didn’t expect people in finance, accounting and telecommunications to know their own area of expertise and also know how to use computers to solve their problems. My living depended on other people being willing to hire my special expertise in solving problems. Why not rely on people who are experts at helping people lose weight?

My wife had been telling me about the Emory medical weight loss program for years, which is the Emory Bariatric Center’s customized non-surgical weight loss and weight management program, called Your Weigh. I finally decided to check the program out, reading about it on the web, taking the online seminar about the program and decided to go for it. I spoke with my employer about re-arranging my work schedule to attend the Friday sessions, and began the program in October of 2012. When I started the program, I weighed 377.6 pounds, was developing Type 2 diabetes, had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Since being in the program, I’ve lost more than110 pounds so far with 80 more pounds to my goal weight, my A1C has gone from 6.4 to 5.4 and my total cholesterol has dropped from 258 to 176. More important than the weight I’ve lost so far — not to mention the related health improvements — I’ve gained friends, support, and the knowledge and tools to help me stay healthy for the rest of my life.

Related Resources:

Do You Have to Choose Between Wine & Your Waistline?

Alcohol Weight Gain

When it comes to drinking alcohol and your health, thousands of experts have weighed in. One thing that they can all agree on is that when it comes to drinking alcohol and your weight, moderation is key.

A recent article on shed some light on the fact that alcohol not only adds hundreds of calories to your diet – a regular beer can add up to more than 150 calories while a glass of wine can cost you 100 calories – but it also temporarily halts your body’s ability to burn fat. So, while the beer you had with pizza and wings might not be a major caloric offender, your body insists on breaking down the calories from the alcohol first, leaving the calories from what you ate to get stored as fat.

So, does this mean that you must resign yourself to teetotaling? No, says Meagan Moyer, registered dietician for the Emory Bariatric Center. But you do need to follow a few rules to keep from growing a beer belly or wine waist!

  1. Keep it simple – A good rule of thumb is the fewer ingredients the better. It’s generally safer to go with a glass of wine or a beer rather than a fancy mixed drink that is loaded with sugar or salt from added juices, soda and mixers.
  2. Eat before you drink – It might sound counterintuitive if you’re trying to skimp on calories, but eating a snack or meal with healthy fat, fiber and protein can help stave off the sugar crash that often comes after a night of drinking. It also can help you feel full so that you’re not picking off of every tray being passed.
  3. Keep count – Conventional wisdom points to the one drink a night rule for women. So, does this mean you can abstain all week and then blow it out on Saturday? Not so fast. Drinking several drinks in one night will mess with your blood sugar, add hundreds of calories to your diet and decrease your judgment in making good food choices – a trifecta of disaster for your waistline.

Author: Meagan Moyer, RD/LD, Emory Bariatric Center



Nutrition Fact or Fiction? Emory Bariatric Center Dietician Sheds Light on the Most Important Meal of the Day

Nutrition Fact or FictionWhen it comes to losing weight, exercising and eating healthy, myths and misconceptions abound. And, with an overabundance of conflicting diet and weight loss information available, it’s hard to know if your breakfast routine is keeping you on target for your weight loss goals or if you’re  unknowingly derailing your path to healthy living.  Is it best to work out in the morning or at night? Can a doughnut really be better for breakfast than a muffin? Fortunately, Meagan Moyer, a registered dietician with the Emory Bariatric Center, can help distinguish diet and exercise myths from the truth to help you get your day off to a great start.

Check out Meagan playing a friendly game of nutrition fact or fiction with 11Alive’s morning news team.

Related Resources: